CRISPR - Editing genes in blood cells

Your DNA encodes over 20 000 genes. How do we figure out what all of those genes do? Thanks to CRISPR gene editing - a type of 'molecular scissors' - we can 'cut' genes out of cells grown in culture and see what happens. 

Curing 'incurable' genetic diseases, making 'super-crops' that can survive climate change, and wiping out disease-causing parasites, what was once a sci-fi fantasy is now reality, thanks to a revolutionary technology called CRISPR. CRISPR is a type of 'molecular scissors' that lets us cut and modify specific parts of the DNA. In molecular biology labs we use CRISPR as a tool to figure out what genes do inside living cells.

What Students will do 

In this project, students will learn how to design and use CRISPR technology to 'knock-out' a gene of their choice inside a red blood cell line. Students will use software to design a personalised CRISPR strategy and will learn how to assemble and introduce the CRISPR components inside living cells. Students will get hands-on wet-lab experience in common molecular and cell biology techniques, including mammalian cell culture, DNA extraction techniques, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and agarose gel electrophoresis. 

Relevant Subjects [not required]

  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Prerequisite Study

  • None

Areas of Student Interest

  • Molecular Biology
Kate Quinlan

Lead Academic: Kate Quinlan- Scientia Associate Professor, School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences

Kate is a Scientia Associate Professor in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS). She joined UNSW in 2014 and currently runs a research group interested in gene regulation, using molecular biology, cell biology and genetics approaches to understand human biology and diseases.  She was awarded a UNSW Scientia Fellowship and became an independent group leader in 2018.  Kate mentors a number of PhD and Honours students.

Annalise Psaila

Mentor: Annalise Psaila

Born and raised in Sydney, Annalise fell in love with science in high school, where she completed Chemistry and Biology in the HSC. Her interest in human health and genetic diseases led her to complete a Bachelor of Advanced Science majoring in Genetics at UNSW. Annalise is currently completing her PhD studying genes important to healthy metabolism. As well as all things science, Annalise loves learning piano, ocean swims, and playing with her two little dogs, Bobby and Gigi.